DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the United States, has once again demonstrated to the world that it no longer is a Catholic university and hence should stop holding itself out as “Catholic.”
As reported in the DePaulia, the student newspaper of the university, on February 25, 2022, the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Involvement of DePaul University in Chicago sponsored its inaugural “Queer Prom.” Quotes from the two coordinators of the event, Riley Reed and Courtney James, unequivocally show how far this university has strayed from the Catholic path. Reed, a senior and student senator for the LGBT+ community, stated about the event:
“I think the amount of diversity we had in the room [and] the number of people that we had here for an event that’s still during Covid times was really great. I think the most beautiful thing I noticed was how many different types of people were here and how people could just let loose and have fun, especially with a lot of the different laws we’ve seen being passed in Florida and Texas. I think that was just really motivating to see all these amazing queer people coming out and celebrating themselves.”
James, director of student involvement, declared:
“Supporting students is what we do, but, more importantly, queer prom is an important concept because it’s part of our students’ identity. Especially at a place like DePaul that’s the nation’s largest Catholic school, one of my favorite things about our university is that when you walk into the Student Center, yes we have Father Egan on one side that says ‘What are you doing for justice?’ but when you walk through the other entrance you see our Catholic Campus Ministry office and then the [Office of Multicultural Student Success] with a pride flag and a Black Lives Matter sign. I think that’s really powerful.”
One question thus looms: why aren’t Catholic Church authorities condemning the prom and censuring DePaul for this gross violation of Church teaching? As the Conference of Catholic Bishops declared in 2000 in the document The Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States:
“In order to maintain and safeguard their freely-chosen Catholic identity, it is important for Catholic universities to set out clearly in their official documentation their Catholic character and to implement in practical terms their commitment to the essential elements of Catholic identity, including the following:
- Commitment to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church;
- Commitment to Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes in carrying out research, teaching and all other university activities, including activities of officially-recognized student and faculty organizations and associations, and with due regard for academic freedom and the conscience of every individual;
- Commitment to serve others, particularly the poor, underprivileged and vulnerable members of society;
- Commitment of witness of the Catholic faith by Catholic administrators and teachers, especially those teaching the theological disciplines, and acknowledgment and respect on the part of non-Catholic teachers and administrators of the university’s Catholic identity and mission;
- Commitment to provide courses for students on Catholic moral and religious principles and their application to critical areas such as human life and other issues of social justice;
- Commitment to care pastorally for the students, faculty, administration and staff;
- Commitment to provide personal services (health care, counseling and guidance) to students, as well as administration and faculty, in conformity with the Church’s ethical and religious teaching and directives; and
- Commitment to create a campus culture and environment that is expressive and supportive of a Catholic way of life.” (emphasis added)
The bishops emphasized the importance of Catholic universities maintaining their Catholic identity:
“In a secular world the strong Catholic identity of our institutes of higher learning is invaluable in witnessing to the relationship of truth and reason, the call of the revealed Word, and the authentic meaning of human life. “The present age is in urgent need of this kind of disinterested service, namely of proclaiming the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished.”
And who is responsible for overseeing the faithfulness of Catholic universities?
“In accordance with Church teaching and the universal law of the Church, the local Bishop has a responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic universities in his diocese and to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character.”
In regard to what the bishops said above, why hasn’t the bishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blaise Cupich, corrected DePaul for hosting the “Queer Prom”? Most likely because he is one of the most left-wing leaders in the American Catholic Church. Indeed, he is one of the most vocal Church supporters of the radical LGBT agenda in contradiction of Church teaching. Cupich also notoriously opposes other Church doctrines, most notably the teaching that communion should be denied to Catholic politicians who unrepentantly support abortion. Because of his left-wing positions, Cupich was actually booed while giving a speech at a pro-life rally in Chicago this year. Thus, we cannot expect Cardinal Blaise to correct DePaul University.
Who then will courageously confront DePaul and defend Church teaching? If the Church fails to act, more Catholic universities will succumb to the world and “gay proms” will be the norm on Catholic campuses. It is time for the Church to end this scandal and restore orthodoxy to the faith. Either the faith means something or the Church should close shop.